Communication Sciences and Disorders Junior Ann Itnyre

Ann ItnyreThere exists a large gap between learning about a specific area of study and actually having the competence to participate in that field. Few Communication Sciences and Disorders students have the privilege of fully engaging in client therapy before beginning graduate school. I feel extremely grateful for the opportunity to not only learn new information, but to apply my knowledge in the clinical setting with patients.

"My IE Pre-Grad mentorship experience first began observing pre-school aged clients in the Speech and Hearing Clinic. The children I observed were in therapy for phonological disorders, language delays, semantic and pragmatic issues and some were possibly on the Autism spectrum.

"Initially, it was my responsibility to observe the therapy sessions of the graduate students in my group and gather data about their client during therapy for them. Through observation and careful analysis of significant behaviors and language patterns, I learned a great deal about the language disorders of per-school aged children. Some of the analysis I performed were Communicative Functions and Means, Symbolic Play Scale Checklist, phonetic transcription and ones specifically tailored to the clients communication needs. By observing these young clients I therapy I learned about typical and atypical behavior and communication.

"My observational findings truly began to have meaning once discussed at the weekly clinical planning meetings. Under the guidance of clinical supervisor Ann Brown, I learned about early intervention therapy goals and how they are best met. Much of the therapy conducted in the Speech and Hearing Clinic is confirmed effective through evidenced based practice.

"In these meetings, I was instructed on the significance of research and why evidenced based practice is the most ethical and effective choice when conducting therapy. Through researching the Enhanced Milieu Teaching and Assessment of Cognitive and Language Abilities through Play, I feel I have gained critical research experience that will be valuable tome as a graduate student and practicing speech-language pathologist.

"After only a few weeks of observation I was asked to begin participating in therapy as a peer model for a pre-school aged client with a phonological and language delay and possible Autism. Her therapy had become challenging because she was unable to follow cues or directions.

"My role in therapy was to first perform the required task for the client to observe and gain meaning from with the goal being that later she would perform the task on her own. The graduate student I worked with was extremely knowledgeable and provided valuable guidance. It was her job to create the lesson plan each week, but she allowed me to be an active part of planning by thinking of creative ideas to elicit target communication.

"Perhaps the most rewarding experience of this mentorship has been to watch the progress that the children have made in therapy in such a short time period. All of them have either met or exceeded their therapy goals, and it has been a privilege to witness the effectiveness of client specific therapy. The child that I helped conduct therapy for went from being quite non-social to eagerly engaging in multiple play routines.

"Comprehension the effectiveness of therapy in this way is not something I had experienced in the classroom before which is why I am so thankful for this opportunity. I truly feel that this mentorship provided me with an advantage and deeper understanding of this profession.

"The mentorship experience also taught me a lot about graduate school itself the level of time, commitment, and preparation it requires. I feel as though I gained some idea of how demanding graduate level course are and the time management skills required to succeed. From what I observed, it seems as though graduate students are placed under extreme pressure to put forth maximal effort into classes, clinic, and research. I was shocked when they would tell me the details of any given day, however, they never complained, but instead seemed to embrace the challenge with positive attitudes. I feel that one of my biggest obstacles as a graduate student will be maintaining a positive attitude when faced with complicated work and demanding time limits, but seeing the graduate students accomplish what seems impossible was very encouraging.

"I am especially grateful to my graduate mentor for providing me with many learning opportunities. She suggested multiple research topics related to childhood communication disorders, and instructed me in data collection and analysis. She also guided me through writing a treatment plan and therapy reports which will be extremely valuable information for the future. Thanks to her, I understood how to ask for letters of recommendation and how to structure my statement of purpose. I originally decided to participate in the mentorship program to gain clinical experience needed to be a speech-language pathologist assistant which does not require a graduate degree. I was solely focused on graduating from college and getting a job. However, because of my mentors guidance and encouragement I am applying for graduate school for the fall semester.